West Coast Civil Defence Emergency Management Website
A Picture Paints a Thousand Words – Adding Value in an Emergency
The West Coast’s very own Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) website went live in the first week of November thanks to the information technology assistance of Westland District Council.
The website project, owned by the West Coast Regional Council, started 18 months ago, and the newly-created website provides information about the CDEM group and helpful information to promote emergency preparedness and awareness. Most importantly, the website can be utilised in the event of a Civil Defence emergency to help provide updated situational messages to inform the public and keep them safe.
Westland District Council’s Information Systems Support Officer, John Stowell, has helped boost the functionality of the website by implementing mapping tools and an offline-capable app that allows data to be collected and plotted to help paint the picture about the impact of an emergency event. This can be utilised to provide behind-the-scenes intelligence to support the response efforts of a range of services such as Police, Defence Force, Fire and Emergency New Zealand, St John, Department of Conservation and Community Public Health.
Mark Crowe, Regional Director, says, “Research shows that visual representation is an extremely effective way of communicating what’s going on. The use of pictorial tools, such as mapping functions, helps people absorb more information faster than relying on text-based information or verbal communication alone.
“The more information emergency workers can glean in an emergency event, the better their situational awareness, communication to team members and overall decision-making will be.”
The maps link directly with a number of existing alert and warning systems that currently exist such as MetService and NZTA alerts.
Claire Brown, Westland District Council’s Emergency Management Officer and Welfare Manager for the region, says, “What the Westland District Council team have helped integrate into the West Coast CDEM website compares well with what other CDEM groups across the country have access to.
“What’s great about the website is that it is multi-layered. It has the business as usual functions, for example, who are we, what we do, plus information on group plans and known hazards. But the real advantage it offers is that in the event of an emergency an added layer of functionality can be activated for emergency workers and Civil Defence responders.
“The information can be used to brief people, and provide situational reports in an easily-digestible format without losing any of the detail. In Civil Defence events, external agencies may request this information on a regular basis at group or even national level depending on the nature and size of the Civil Defence event and this technology enables us to meet those requests more effectively.”
Westland District Council encourage the public to check out the new website which can be accessed at: https://westcoastemergency.govt.nz/